The functional forecast model of emotion expression processing

Max Weisbuch, Reginald B. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Fleeting nonverbal emotion expressions trigger a variety of spontaneous responses in human observers. To account for these effects, we introduce a functional forecast model (FFM) of emotion expression processing. The FFM assumes that emotion expressions provide timely forecasts of impending events. Responses to these forecasts are adaptive and may be learned or innately prepared, but in either case, observers need not infer mental states to exhibit immediate responses to emotion expressions. We postulate a diffuse route that operates pre-attentively and activates appetitive and defensive motivational systems in response to gross affective meaning relevant to imminent environmental threats and available or scarce survival resources. We postulate a focal route that requires attention to efficiently and spontaneously activate specific, though tacit behavioral expectations. We explain how the FFM accounts for a variety of responses to emotion expressions, including physiological responses, affective responses, behavioral responses, trait attributions, and emotion recognition. Lastly, we describe how the FFM relates to other models of emotion, and describe future directions based on the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-514
Number of pages16
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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